In light of today being St Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d share my favorite Irish blessing. I first heard this blessing nearly 18 years ago.
My husband and I were dating, but had entered into “considering marriage” territory. We had a whirlwind romance so that consideration came pretty early. My husband had bought a piece of property in one of my favorite sections of town. You still lived on acreage (after growing up with land to roam, this was important to me), but you were close in and could pop over to Starbucks, Publix, and Target-three of my favorite places! The beach was 6 miles away, but I was still in the land of pine and palmetto.
We had discussed having children and it was important to me that they be raised in the church. Even though at this point in my life I wasn’t attending a church, I felt very strongly about being married in one and then bringing my children up there. I found a church of a particular denomination nearby. Since both my husband and I had been brought up in this denomination we found comfort in attending here.
There were things that were new to me about the service. The fact that that they all stood and sang :
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
after the offering (tithes) had been collected was new to me. I didn’t know the words, but by the second visit I had it down. The other thing I had not been exposed to was that at the end of the service, after the altar call and prayer, the congregation would all hold hands and sing this Irish Blessing.
Not one person was left out, so if you thought that being on the end of a pew would get you out of it, you would be wrong. I am a pretty introverted person until I get to know you so this one caused me a little panic the first time. But I grew to love this ending. The words were so beautiful. At the end the person holding your hand usually gave it a gentle squeeze, as if to say “I see you. We are one in God’s family, and I hope you have a wonderful day.”
I wouId be baptized in that church. We would end up being married in that church. I would give birth to our first two children while still in that church. And at the end of the service I would mean those words as I sang them.
When my middle child was about 8 months old, I started attending MOPS at another local church. MOPS would be a life altering experience for me. I would learn to push outside of my comfort zones for the first time in my motherhood. The growth that God had in store for me during that time was tremendous. I participated in group discussions with strangers, some of whom became my closest friends. I would press out farther after my daughter was born and stand before the 50 or so women, giving my testimony of what MOPS had meant to me, shaking at the thought of speaking publicly and sharing things about myself that I usually kept inside. I did these things at the insistence in my soul that God had called me to do them. During the time that I was pregnant with my daughter, I would feel led to leave my old church and began attending this church until we moved away in 2008.
I would spend two years on the MOPS steering committee. One of the women that I shared a role with would turn out to be my neighbor. We lived on the same street and had never met (this was not uncommon since we all lived on 2 1/2 acres). My daughter is 2 months older than her middle daughter. Her oldest daughter and my middle son are days apart in age. She would become my best friend. We would take family vacations together and is still the friend I seek out when I return home. I wanted to be sure that all the newly visiting moms felt welcome at MOPS. The steering committee was also mentored by amazingly wise women who would help me continue to grow.
When my youngest started preschool, I stepped out of the MOPS roles and began to attend the women’s bible study. My small group leader loved on us tremendously and for that I will forever be grateful. At the beginning of 2008 a job change for my husband was looming. My husband and I each spent time in prayer over the change. It was during a Beth Moore study that I read “it is better to go with God to places unknown, than to stay like dry bones in places we’ve always been” and I knew we would be moving from my hometown. Away from my family, the home that my husband and I had built, and the one where all our children had been born. Because of those words, I was at peace with the decision.
After the move, this friend that I had met in MOPS would bring me a housewarming gift. A piece of wall art that would have the Irish Blessing printed on it. She did not know that I loved this blessing or what it meant to me. She just saw the piece and thought it fitting. Since that day, in every home in which I’ve lived (and there’s been 5 since I received the gift) that art has hung as closely to the front door as I can place it. It is a remembrance for me and a blessing that I offer to all who enter my home.
Let your light shine!